Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

February 15, 2024

Story Time Tips: Part 1

Tips for making story time more meaningful: Toddlers and Preschoolers

By Kate Wright M.S. CCC-SLP

Most parents have heard that reading to your children is good for language and literacy skills, but many parents wonder how to make that time meaningful. Some kids have a hard time sitting and just listening to the story. Some parents get bored reading the same story over and over again that their child keeps requesting. So how can we make the most of story time?  Here are some tips for reading to toddlers and preschoolers.

  1. Pick a book with clear, simple pictures. If there is too much happening on the page visually, it will be more challenging for your child to focus on the story.
  2. You don’t have to read every word, or even any of the words! Kids can get a lot out of book just by looking at them and talking about them so don’t feel pressured to read every line of the story.
  3. Reading books with repetition is a great way to get young kids involved in stories. Once your child learns the repetitive line, you can pause and let them finish the line. Examples of repetitive books include books by Eric Carl, the Pete the Cat series by Eric Litwin and the Bear series by Karma Wilson.

How to Target Receptive Language

Receptive language is the ability to listen and understand language. We can target receptive language skills by asking children to identify targets or answer questions. Many of these skills don’t even require the child to talk. Here are some receptive items you may target while reading a picture book by saying “Point to…” or “Show me…”

  • Objects: the dog, the wagon, the tree
  • Actions: who is drinking?
  • Describing words: the yellow ball, something little, the dirty one
  • Prepositional phrases: the toy on top of the shelf, the toy under the chair

How to Target Expressive Language

Expressive language is the ability to express wants, needs, thoughts and ideas. For young children, we can target expressive language skills by asking them through labeling or answering questions. Your expectation for how many words the child uses in their answer can change depending on your child’s current skills. Even if your child isn’t speaking very much yet, you can model labeling and describing in the book. Here are some expressive items you may target while reading a picture book:

  • Objects: What’s that?
  • Actions: What is she doing?
  • Describing words: This chair is little, but this chair is __
  • Prepositional phrases: where is the dog? (under the table)
  • Simple who, what, and where questions: What is he wearing? Who gave him the apple?

Happy reading!

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